One of the Navy’s strangest craft, unromantically titled YD 171, might be called by the more meaningful and appealing name of “Seagoing Samson,” for it can toss freight-train weights about like a skilled juggler. The YD 171, reassembled at Long Beach Naval Shipyard, is one of the largest floating cranes in the world. Twice as tall as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the crane stands 374 feet high with its boom raised.
The crane, one of four built in Germany during the war, was awarded to the United States under the authority of the Tripartite Naval Commission. One of the original four was sunk. Another, scheduled for award to Russia, was not complete when the war ended. The remaining two, used at Kiel by the Germans for submarine construction and repair, were taken over by the British. It is one of these bulging biceps of the briny deep that was assigned to the Navy.